The Abraham Cowley
Text and Image Archive

Man ex tree ("Man is an inverted tree: 'Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut off and thrown into the fire' [Matt. 3:10]"), link to Mannheim facsimile of Geerhardt de Jode, Mikrokosmos (Antwerp, 1589), Emblem 35; image possibly based on an illustration from "Ballade d'une home sauvage" (France, about 1500), Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Ms. fr. 2366, fol. 3v (frontispiece of Timothy Husband, The Wild Man Within: Medieval Myth and Symbolism [New York, 1980]); for the concept see further Lyndy Abraham, Marvell and Alchemy (London, 1990), Chap. 9 ("The Inverted Tree"). Now the Latin poem's meaning accompanying de Jode's emblem:
What does the oak signify, branches everywhere
spreading, which bears a man's image in its cleft?
Aristotle avers that a tree is an inverted man, with
its feet stretched aloft, while its root is its head;
if its root is good, it will yield plenty of fruit;
given too little juice, will yield little or none.
If the root of a man's mind is wisdom, then
void of bad fruit, he will thrive, full of good.

Related links:

Tree-of-Jesse (Is. 11:1) stained-
glass window, St. Denis, Paris,
from a Comparative Iconography
page at the Univ. of Pittsburgh

Sprouting trunk: "I have overcome
fate by enduring"

Richard Dey, The Tree of
Man's Life
(London, 1559),
from Chris Mullen's
Telling of Stories

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